As the weather begins to cool and we start preparing our homes for the winter season. Remember the more efficient you heating system is the more money you will save. Indicators to heat loss can be cold floors, damp feeling to the floor, low drafts, peeling paint, cracks and/or gaps near the baseboards or in the floor itself (due to expansion and contraction).
Performing routine maintenance on your home’s heating system certainly is a way you can save money on your heating bills. You should have a qualified heating contractor inspect and service your system every fall to ensure it is safe and working at peak efficiency. He will inspect your heat chamber for cracks etc. but there are things you can do as well to help make it more efficient.
Here’s a list of things you can do to your home’s heating system to ensure its efficiency and is providing good air quality.
1. Check your Filtration system
When people turn their heat on in the fall for the first time, remembering that it is perfectly normal for dust to have collected on the heat exchanger over the summer, and this dust will burn off, resulting in a strong, distinct odor. Just open your windows to let the odor dissipate.
* However with a forced-air heating system, you should be cleaning or replacing the filter monthly. Low-efficiency filters, lack of a filter replacement program, and improperly sized filters can allow particles and debris to be pumped into your home.
2. Duct Work Contamination
Closing up the house and starting to use your furnace can really have an impact on indoor air quality. HVAC systems have been shown to act as a collection source during the warm humid summer environment for a variety of contaminants that have the potential to affect your health, such as mold, fungi, bacteria and very small particles of dust.
– According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. The removal of such contaminants from your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is crucial to improve indoor air quality.
– Your home’s duct system carries the air from your furnace to each room in your house. The best way to keep the air in your home clean throughout the cooler months is to get your HVAC system cleaned. Plus, a clean system can save you money on your energy bill.
– About half of the energy used in your house is on heating and cooling. When you clean your system you can save up to 30 percent in energy costs. So not only are you improving indoor air quality, but you’re saving money and helping the environment.
– It is found that clean, efficient systems are also less likely to break down, have a longer life span, and generally operate more effectively than dirty systems.
– Some things that may lead you to consider more frequent cleanings are: Smokers in the household, Pets that shed, some one in the house with allergies or asthma, Home renovations or remodeling.
* The most effective way to clean air ducts and ventilation systems is to employ a contractor who can place the duct system under negative pressure, through the use of a specialized, powerful vacuum. Yes I know this will cost you but it is the best. You could open up vent covers and insert your vacuum down the duct and try to clean out the ducts yourself but it is not very efficient or effective.
3. Your heating and cooling ductwork may be wasting a lot of your energy dollars. It is estimated that more than 90 percent of HVAC systems installed longer than 10 years will have some level of deterioration of the duct insulation if there is any at all. Over time, the insulation fibers are distributed and blown into occupied spaces every time the blower turns on.
* Insulating the ducts can insure the heat gets to where it is going and thus saves you energy. Getting a blanket-wrap insulation for the ducts is just the thing to correct this problem.
4. Heating systems dry the air and cause dry skin and irritate noses.
* Using a humidifier can correct this problem but humidity levels higher than 50 percent are also a problem and can promote the growth of dust mites, mold, fungi, and bacteria. The later is not usually a problem in winter though.
5. Clutter seems to be a problem for many of us and it is easy to fill the room and not realize how much we are blocking the vents.
* Keeping your heat vents open and unobstructed by furniture or anything else will certainly help the efficiency of your furnace.
Finally with heating costs this winter expected to increase by up to 70%, what can you do to save as much money on your home this winter as possible? If you have done all the things above maybe the next step, if you have an old gas or oil furnace, is to consider replacing it with a new high-efficiency furnace. It could save you some of the maintenance costs this fall, up to 60 percent on heating costs this winter and keep you cool next summer. Worth thinking about right? Check with your local contractors for costs.